We couldn’t foresee SCOTUS 2015
though the boy who took me from you
turned my left breast into a cracked diviner’s ball,
the purple ring of dental bruises like fissures in the crystal.
And when he dragged me into the woods
to a blanket he’d prepared,
I wasn’t thinking of a band around your ring finger.
But I did pretend, as he made me choke him
down, that the black eclipsing my vision
was the sleep you and I had ferreted away
in each other’s arms—waking up before dawn
to slide to our opposite sides of the bed
just before one of our parents cracked the door.
And after that summer, you wouldn’t speak to me,
so I walled up the part of myself that had pinned you
down on the floor in a puddle of writhing—my name
a sound among others, floating up into the cheap wallpaper
and disappearing. Like you, I pretended
we were never us. I pretended to be one of them,
with the thick lies coating my skin like flu fever,
because hate is a virus that can’t leave you
once you’ve contracted it, once you’ve
been pulled straight down on a pillar of boy
by your hips, and just as the blood takes a while
to slide out, so too did I take years to understand
that wanting both shouldn’t have made me throw up my arms
and surrender to violence. As one covers the mirror
at funerals with a veil, I tried to forget you, but really
I was trying to lose myself. As if a deluge
of aftershave and cocks could erase the spirit.
As if you and I shared what we did
on an island we couldn’t map blind.
As if swimming to the mainland
made me strong, not craven.
Kristi Carter has poems published or forthcoming in journals such as Spillway Magazine, So to Speak, CALYX Journal, and Hawai’i Review. She is originally from the foothills of North Carolina. She currently lives in Nebraska.